Mbeya Power Plant
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Zimbabwe’s coal production has declined by 40%, which has hampered the country's thermal power generation.

Last week, the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets reported that the country’s coal output, which is essential to the energy industry, recorded a significant decline in 2016.

Media cited stats released by the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, indicating that coal production was at 2,7 million tonnes last year, representing a 38% decline from 4,3 million tonnes in 2015.

It is reported that over the past two weeks, Munyati and Bulawayo Power stations were not generating electricity due to the shortage of coal.

While Hwange Thermal Power Station, the country’s largest coal-fired power plant, with a generation capacity of 920MW, was producing an estimated 264MW.

Additionally, Harare Power Station was producing 26MW of electricity.

Unpaid coal supplies

The bulk of the coal produced by the Hwange Colliery and Makomo Resources is taken up by Hwange Power Station, which consumes between 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes a day, while the remainder is supplied to small thermal power stations as well as regional markets, media reported.

The substantial decline in the production of coal has left the coal mining firms failing to meet demand for power generation.

Makomo Resources executive director, Raymond Mutokonyi, said: “We used to produce about 215,000 tonnes of coal per month but now this has gone down by 40%.”

ZPC affecting coal production

According to the media, Mutokonyi blamed the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), which is the largest consumer of coal in the country, stating that the power utility is failing to pay for coal supplies.

He said: “ZPC owes us [Makomo Resources] $23 million as of Friday last week. When we ask them, they tell us that they don’t have the money. But we have realised that they are not prioritising us but foreign suppliers such as Eskom of South Africa. This adversely affects our production.”

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